George R.R. Martin Has A Surprising Take On The Changes From His Books In House Of The Dragon, And That Includes The Dog

 Screenshot of George R.R. Martin from Random House Q&A video.
Credit: Penguin Random House

House of the Dragon Season 2 has been delivering banger after banger episodes since the premiere on the 2024 TV schedule. George R.R. Martin may be the acclaimed author behind the A Song of Ice and Fire Universe, but even he has to admit when those adapting his source material have come up with some great additions. Recently, the writer shared his thoughts on the latest season of the HBO fantasy series in a heartfelt blog post. Among the many changes made by the show's writers, one addition, in particular, surprisingly caught Martin's attention—and his approval: the introduction of a scruffy dog.

The writer recently took to his personal blog on Friday to sing the praises of the HOTD team for adding a canine companion to one of the series' most despised characters. He wrote:

The show added a brand new character as well. The dog.

In the gruesome Season 2 premiere of HOTD, we see Cheese, the ratcatcher, and Blood, a thug hired by Daemon, infiltrate the Red Keep with the intent of killing Aemond Targaryen. These two cannot find the eyepatch-wearing baddy, so instead, they devastatingly turn their attention to killing Helaena and Aegon’s son, Jaehaerys. Throughout the entire episode, Cheese's loyal pup never leaves his side. In a moment of frustration on their way to commit the murder, Cheese kicks his devoted pet, and fans lost it. In the follow-up episode, when the rat catcher and all the others in the city are wrangled up and hanged for the crime, the final shot lingers on the dog, forlornly looking up at his owner, who is gone for good.

It’s a heart-wrenching addition that Martin acknowledged, highlighting the unexpected emotional depth it brought to the character. There is a reason House of the Dragon is easily one of the best fantasy series streaming today.

The 75-year-old New Jersey native isn’t usually thrilled when screenwriters tweak his original work by adding characters, but even he had to admit, the dog was an excellent addition. He continued:

I am… ahem… not usually a fan of screenwriters adding characters to the source material when adapting a story. Especially not when the source material is mine. But that dog was brilliant. I was prepared to hate Cheese, but I hated him even more when he kicked that dog. And later, when the dog say at his feet, gazing up… that damn near broke my heart. Such a little thing… such a little dog… but his presence, the few short moments he was on screen, gave the ratcatcher so much humanity. Human beings are such complex creatures. The silent presence of that dog reminded us that even the worst of men, the vile and the venal, can love and be loved.

We were all pretty ticked off at Cheese after he kicked the dog. But here’s the real kicker: George R.R. Martin himself admitted to being envious of the creative choice. He added:

I wish I’d thought of that dog. I didn’t, but someone else did. I am glad of that.

This acknowledgment from a master storyteller like George speaks volumes about the subtle genius behind the show's adaptation choices. Still, the series has been praised and critiqued for its departure from the source material. For example, the showrunner skipped a lot of the lore about the North, giving us a bad feeling about the shorter season 2.

Overall, it's fun to see Martin's take on the show and his reactions to change, and I have to admit that his latest thoughts surprised me in the best way.

House of the Dragon Season 2 airs on HBO and is available to stream with a Max subscription every Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET. I'm eagerly looking forward to the new episodes, especially if they keep adding sweet, scruffy dogs to the cast.